With all of the summer fun you’ve been having, holiday shopping has probably been the last thing on your mind. But if thinking back to the stress and anxiety you felt during last year’s holiday shopping rush makes you cringe, you might want to put the holidays on your radar now!
Starting to plan your holiday shopping strategy now can help you from having to fight traffic, crowds, and “out of stock” notices come November and December. Here are some tips to help you create an early holiday shopping plan of attack:
- Create a budget. The first step to creating your
holiday shopping budget is to make a list of who you plan to give gifts to. Then, come up with some potential gift ideas for each person on your list. Once you’ve estimated your expenses, you’ll need to decide where the money will come from. Savings? End-of-year bonus? A part-time job during the holidays? If it looks like you’ll be short in terms of money, you’ll either need to make some tweaks to your gift list, or find a way to pull in some extra funds.
- Stick to the budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit and overspend, but you’ll have less holiday stress and anxiety if you adhere to your budget and spend within your means. Almost everyone has financial limitations, and you should know what yours are before you begin buying.
- Start searching for deals today. Just decide what it is you want to buy, and begin scouring websites and stores for the best bargains. Time is on your side!
- Cash or credit? If you’re disciplined enough to pay off credit card purchases right away or quickly enough to avoid amassing too much interest, then there’s little to no risk using a credit card. If, on the other hand, you’re more inclined to let the debt pile up, cash is probably the best way to go. Sure, it’s easier to “buy now and pay later” rather than make purchases solely with the funds you have on hand, but sticking to cash will prevent you from overspending and having to deal with paying off debt (and interest!) later on.
- To DIY or to not DIY? If you’re a crafty sort of person and enjoy making things, then homemade do-it-yourself gifts may be the way to go. They can be less expensive than buying similar pre-made gifts, and if you get started right now you’ll have plenty of time to put in the thought and time you need to create the perfect presents for your loved ones. Plus, you’ll free yourself from the pressures of having to slap them together at the last minute.
- Online or in-store? Cyber-shopping continues to gain holiday customers every year, and 2016 isn’t expected to be any different. The beauty of starting your online shopping early is that you won’t have to worry about items selling out within the blink of an eye, and you’ll have more time to comparison shop among sites to ensure you get the best deals. When online shopping however, it’s important to only do business with those websites that are reputable and have strong security systems in place. Otherwise, you could unknowingly expose yourself to cyber crooks. They’re constantly seeking out new victims, and not just during the holidays. And keep this in mind — if a cyber deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.